No Summer Off for Stone

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It's been a busy summer for Stone Stanley Entertainment. The independent wrapped production on five series — NBC's Fame, ABC's Celebrity Mole Yucatan, Comedy Central's The Man Show
and Oblivious
and The Joe Schmo Show
for Spike TV.

Now, the company behind such series as Popstars, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Shop 'Til You Drop
and Bobcat's Big Ass Show
is developing a one-camera comedy executive produced and starring Stephen Baldwin, who was in both renditions of Celebrity Mole.

Canine Companion
is a half-hour scripted series in which a male dog-walking service is actually a front for a "human companion" business.

"We begin pitching cable and broadcast networks [this] week," said co-founder Scott Stone. "Not necessarily in that order."

Sept. 2 also marks the two-hour (9 to 11 p.m.) debut of Schmo, a reality spoof in which all of the contestants are actors — minus one. The program sends up such reality-show rituals as "last man standing," in which contestants receive immunity for maintaining contact with a hooker the longest, and talent shows, judged by Survivor II
cast-off Jerri Manthey.

"My favorite part is the eviction process," said co-founder David Stanley, noting the refrain 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust (fill in name), you are dead to us!' We have the rose from The Bachelor
and elements of Survivor.

"The lingering cuts, the tension, the melodrama, the music. It will all make you say: 'Come on, already.' "

Spike TV executive vice president Kevin Kay calls Schmo
"a whirlwind ride with many funny physical challenges and emotional moments. The actors are great, Matt [Kennedy Gould, the unwitting contestant] doesn't get it for a while."

Kay said the big fall promo support behind the series — a marathon preceding the conclusion of its 10 hours is in the works — has pushed the second season of hidden-camera show Oblivious, which had been slated for a September bow, into next year.

"Oblivious
did well for us on Sunday nights. We told Scott and David that we would be going to a male-skewing format, and they were able to make the second a bit edgier.

"We've added the 'O' girls to give [host] Regan [Burns], who is becoming more well-known, something else to play off of."

The new season of The Man Show, now hosted by Joe Rogan (Fear Factor) and Doug Stanhope, is off to a fast start, with the season-opener on Aug. 17 earning a 1.7 household mark, the best since the series bowed after South Park
years ago. That number was matched by the season's second installment.

"It was a brand that needed to be freshened up," said Stone. But fans need not worry: beer swizzling, pranks and the closing featuring girls on trampolines ("we've fulfilled our promise," said Stone) remain intact.

Looking ahead, the company believes it can find new ground within a combination of realms. "We think there are some really funny executable ideas within the confines of unscripted/comedy," said Stone, noting that it doesn't make economic sense for the company to heavily pursue more traditional sitcoms. "There are six companies spending $250 million to $500 million a year in the hopes of getting a handful of scripts that go to pilot, and then have a one in 200 chance to take the next step."

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